This recipe for Creamy Vegan Rice Kheer is hands down my favourite way to make the classic Indian rice pudding. The tender grains of rice are fragrant and have all the flavours of sweet Rasmalai milk. In my opinion, those two things combined make for a comforting bowl of kheer.
In our home, this is known as Bodhi’s Kheer because it’s my boy’s favourite pudding. To adapt it for his little tum, I’ve cut out traditional refined sugar from the recipe and replaced it with low GI agave nectar. The addition of golden sultanas also lend a juicy sweetness to the overall dish. He loves it.
Oat milk and dairy milk can be used interchangeably in the recipe, and this is something I do often. Having said this, I find the oat milk version to be much lighter and so recommend seeking it out for a delicious spiced rice pudding.
What kind of rice should I use for this Creamy Vegan Rice Kheer?
Traditionally, Kheer is made with basmati rice and not short-grain pudding rice. It can be made directly from washed and soaked aged basmati or with leftover cooked rice (less creamy than the former). Basmati rice makes a huge difference to the flavour of the Kheer and is what differentiates it from traditional western rice pudding recipes.
So which rice should I use?
Controversial disclosure: My recipe for Creamy Vegan Rice Kheer uses a 70/30 combination of aged basmati and short-grain pudding rice. Not only does this add the fragrance of traditional Kheer, it also ensures a level of creaminess that makes me weak at the knees. Having said this, feel free to mix things up by using 100% basmati or 100% short-grain rice if you like. There are no hard and fast rules, only personal preferences. After all, the rice is just a carrier for copious amounts of milk and/or cream in any rice pudding recipe.
Can I used other plant milks to make Creamy Vegan Rice Kheer?
Yes! While I find oat milk to be the closest match to dairy milk, you may prefer to use almond milk, rice milk, pea milk, hazelnut milk or even cashew milk in this recipe. You can also use soy milk but be aware that it will alter the flavour slightly. Ultimately, you can use any combination of plant milk to make this dish. Just be sure it’s an unsweetened one! Note that most oat milks are not certified as gluten free so if you are avoiding gluten, try a nut milk. Soy milk or rice milk marked nut free are great if you are avoiding nuts.
How long do I need to cook this kheer?
45 minutes, low and slow with a lid on to ensure each grain of rice swells to twice or even thrice its size. A lid ensures a skin does not form on top. The long cooking time also means the natural starch from the rice has a chance to thicken the kheer while the spices develop their aromas and colours. The finished kheer will be golden from the saffron and speckled with black and cardamom vanilla seeds.
Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
Yes. In fact, this kheer tastes even better the next day. The spices and aromas have a chance to develop as the kheer chills. This infused the milk and cream with even more flavour. After a day, you will also notice the fragrance of the rice, vanilla and rosewater deepens.
Ingredients you’ll need to make Creamy Vegan Rice Kheer
- Aged basmati rice
- Short-grain pudding rice
- Oat milk
- Plant-based cream (such as oat cream)
- Golden sultanas
- Agave nectar
- Green cardamom pods
- Vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract), optional for enhanced flavour
- Slivered almonds
- Dried rose petals
How to make Creamy Vegan Rice Kheer
Time needed: 55 minutes
How to make Creamy Vegan Rice Kheer
- Wash the rice & combine the ingredients
Wash the rice briefly. Add to a heavy-based pan along with the oat milk, cream, sultanas, agave nectar, crushed green cardamom seeds, saffron, vanilla bean paste and rosewater. Give everything a good stir. Bring everything to a boil Bring the milk to a gentle simmer and then turn the heat down low. Cover with a lid and allow to cook for 45 minutes.
- Stir often!
Stir the kheer every 5 minutes for the first 30 minutes to ensure it does stick to the base of the pan. After this time you will notice the kheer begins to thicken more rapidly so you will need to stir it every 3-4 minutes to avoid anything burning. You can keep the pan uncovered at this point. Stirring the kheer often encourages it to thicken more, just as if you were making risotto.
- Serve it hot or cold
Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before serving. This kheer can also be served cold (it tastes even better the next day, too!). If serving cold, allow the kheer to come to room temperature before packing into an airtight container and refrigerating for at least 2-3 hours. The kheer will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Large, heavy-based saucepan with lid
- Wooden spoon
- 30 g aged basmati rice
- 80 g short-grain pudding rice
- 1 L oat milk
- 50 ml plant-based cream
- 20 g golden sultanas
- 3 tbsp agave nectar
- 5 green cardamom pods seeds removed and crushed
- Large pinch of saffron
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 1 tsp rosewater
- 1 tbsp slivered almonds and dried rose petals to garnish
- Mix the rice together in a bowl and rinse briefly. Don’t rinse away too much starch as this is what will make the Kheer creamy.
- Put the rice into a large, heavy-based saucepan. A non-stick pan is ideal as the milk will will be less likely to catch and burn at the base of the pan. Pour in the oat milk, cream, sultanas, agave, cardamom, saffron, rosewater and vanilla. Stir and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid.
- Stirring frequently, simmer the Kheer over a low heat. Once it begins to thicken, you’ll need to stir it more often, at least every 5 minutes. Once reduced to the consistency of thin porridge, beat the Kheer with a wooden spoon until the grains are soft and tender. This will tease the starch out of the rice and thicken the kheer beautifully.
- Switch off the heat and serve hot or alternatively cool to room temperature and refrigerate for 2-3 hours for serving the kheer cold. Garnish with almonds and rose petals.
- Note: This rice kheer is not suitable for freezing.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Ensure the kheer is completely cool before placing in the fridge.
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